For the corresponding area where Alemannic German is spoken, see Alemannic German.
Part of the Frankish Empire (496, 539–843), the Ostrogothic Kingdom (496–539), and East Francia (843–911)
3rd century–911
Alemannia (orange) and Upper Burgundy (green) in the 10th century
Capital Not specified
Government Monarchy
Historical era Migration period, Early Middle Ages
   Alemanni invade Germania superior 3rd century
  Under Frankish suzerainty 496
  Under direct Carolingian rule 746
  Stem duchy of East Francia 843
   Election of Conrad I of Germany, formation of the Holy Roman Empire 911
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Germania superior
Duchy of Swabia

Alamannia or Alemannia was the territory inhabited by the Germanic Alemanni after they broke through the Roman limes in 213. The Alemanni expanded from the Main basin during the 3rd century, raiding the Roman provinces and settling on the left bank of the Rhine from the 4th century.

Ruled by independent tribal kings during the 4th to 5th centuries, Alamannia lost its independence and became a duchy of the Frankish Empire in the 6th century, and with the beginning formation of the Holy Roman Empire under Conrad I in 911 became the Duchy of Swabia. The term Swabia was often used interchangeably with Alamannia in the 10th to 13th centuries.

The territory of Alamannia as it existed from the 7th to 9th centuries was centered on Lake Constance and included the High Rhine, the Black Forest and the Alsace on either side of the Upper Rhine, the upper Danube basin as far as the confluence with the Lech, with an unclear boundary towards Burgundy to the south-west in the Aare basin (the Aargau). Raetia Curiensis, although not part of Alemannia, was ruled by Alemannic counts, and became part of the Duchy of Swabia as it was established by Burchard I.

The territory corresponds to what was still the areal of Alemannic German in the modern period, i.e. French Alsace, German Baden and Swabia, German-speaking Switzerland and Austrian Vorarlberg.[1]


Further information: List of Alamannic pagi

The Alamanni were pushed south from their original area of settlement in the Main basin and in the 5th and 6th century settled new territory on either side of the Rhine. Alemannia under Frankish rule later the Duchy of Swabia within the Holy Roman Empire covered a territory that was more or less undisputed during the 7th to 13th centuries, organised into counties or pagi.

In Swabia: Hegowe (Hegau), between Lake Constance, the upper Danube and the Swabian Jura. Perahtoltaspara (Berchtoldsbaar) in the upper Neckar basin, left of the upper Danube as far as Ulm, including the source of the Danube. Nekargowe (named for the Neckar, capital Canstatt). Swiggerstal (the modern Ermstal), Filiwigawe (Filsgau, named for the Fils), Trachgowe (Drachgau, near Schwäbisch Gmünd) and Alba (Albuch) between the Neckar and the Danube. Duria (Duriagau) between Ulm and Augsburg.

Albegowe (Allgäu), Keltinstein (between Geltnach and Wertach) and Augestigowe (capital Augsburg) along the Lech forming the border to Bavaria. Rezia (Ries, ultimately from the name of the Roman province of Raetia) in the Northeastern corner, left of the Danube (capital Nördlingen). Linzgowe (Linzgau) and Argungowe (named for Argen River) north of Lake Constance. Eritgau, Folcholtespara (Folcholtsbaar), Rammegowe (Rammachgau) and Illargowe (named for the Iller, capital Memmingen) on the right side of the Danube.

In Baden: Brisigowe (Breisgau) along the Upper Rhine opposite Sundgau, and Mortunova, the later Ortenau, along the Upper Rhine opposite Nordgau. Alpegowe (Albgau), centered on St. Blaise Abbey, Black Forest

In modern France (the Alsace): Suntgowe (Sundgau) and Nordgowe (Nordgau)

In modern Switzerland: Augestigowe (the territory surrounding Augst) and Turgowe (modern Thurgau, named for the Thur; Zürichgau was detached from Thurgau in the 8th century)

The territory between Alamannia and Upper Burgundy was known as Argowe (modern Aargau, named for the Aare). The pertinence of this territory to either Alamannia or Upper Burgundy was disputed.

The county of Raetia Curiensis was absorbed into Alamannia in the early 10th century. It comprised the Ringowe (Rheingau, named for the Rhine) and Retia proper.


Tribal kingdoms

Main article: Alamanni
Further information: Crisis of the Third Century

Originally a loose confederation of unrelated tribes, the Alemanni underwent coalescence or ethnogenesis during the 3rd century, and were ruled by kings throughout the 4th and 5th centuries until 496, when they were defeated by Clovis I of the Franks at the Battle of Tolbiac.

The Alemanni during the Roman Empire period were divided into a number of cantons or goviae, each presided by a tribal king. But there appears to have been the custom of the individual kings uniting under the leadership of a single king in military expeditions.

Alemannian settlements on both sides of the Alps between the 3rd and 6th centuries.

Some kings of the Alemanni of the 4th and 5th centuries are known by name, the first being Chrocus (died 306), a military leader who organized raids across the limes during the 3rd century. Chnodomarius (fl. 350) supported Constantius II in the rebellion of Magnentius. Chnodomarius was the leader of the Alemannic army in the battle of Strasbourg in 357.

Macrian, Hariobaud, Urius, Ursicinus, Vadomar, and Vestralp were Alemannic kings who in 359 made treaties with Julian the Apostate. Macrian was deposed in an expedition ordered by Valentinian I in 370. Macrian appears to have been involved in building a large alliance of Alemannic tribes against Rome, which earned him the title of turbarum rex artifex ("king and crafter of unrest").

The Romans installed Fraomar as a successor of Marcian, but the Bucinobantes would not accept him and he was expelled and Macrian restored and Valentinian made the Bucinobantes his foederati in the war against the Franks. Macrian was killed on campaign against the Franks, in an ambush laid by the Frankish king Mallobaudes.

Gibuld (fl. 470) is the last known king of the Alemanni. His raid on Passau is mentioned in the vita of Saint Lupus. The name of Gibuld's successor who was defeated at Tolbiac is not known.

Merovingian duchy

After their defeat in 496, the Alemanni bucked the Frankish yoke and put themselves under the protection of Theodoric the Great of the Ostrogoths, but after his death they were again subjugated by the Franks (539), under Theuderic I and Theudebert I. Thereafter, Alamannia was a nominal dukedom within Francia.

Though ruled by their own dukes, it is not likely that they were very often united under one duke in the 6th and 7th centuries. The Alemanni most frequently appear as auxiliaries in expeditions to Italy. The Duchy of Alsace was Alemannic, but it was ruled by a line of Frankish dukes and the region around the upper Danube and Neckar rivers was ruled by the Ahalolfing family and not by the ducal house which ruled central Alamannia around Lake Constance. Rhaetia too, though Alamannic, was ruled by the Victorids coterminously with the Diocese of Chur.

Alamannia was Christianised during the 7th century, although not as thoroughly as either Francia to its west or Bavaria to its east. The first Alamannic law code, Pactus Alamannorum, dates to this period. The Roman dioceses of Strasbourg and Basel covered Alsace and that of Chur, as mentioned, Rhaetia. Alamannia itself only had a diocese in the east, at Augsburg (early 7th century). There were two Roman bishoprics, Windisch and Octodurum, which were moved early to other sites (Avenches and Sitten respectively).

Western Alamannia did eventually (7th century) receive a diocese (Constance) through the cooperation of the bishops of Chur and the Merovingian monarchs. The foundation of Constance is obscure, though it was the largest diocese in Germany throughout the Merovingian and early Carolingian era. The dioceses of Alamannia, including Chur, which had been a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Milan, were placed under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Mainz by the Carolingians.

After the death of Dagobert I in 638, Alamannia, like Bavaria, Aquitaine, and Brittany, broke its ties with its Frankish sovereigns and struggled for independence. This was largely successful until the early 8th century, when a series of campaigns waged by the Arnulfing mayors of the palace reduced Alamannia to a province of Francia once again. It was, however, during this period of de facto independence that the Alamanni began to be ruled by one duke, though Alsace and Rhaetia remained outside of the scope of Alamannia.

Between 709 and 712, Pepin of Heristal fought against Lantfrid, who appears as dux of the Alamanni, and who committed to writing the second Alamannic law code, the Lex Alamannorum. In 743, Pepin the Short and Carloman waged a campaign to reduce Alamannia and in 746 Carloman began a final thrust to subdue the Alamannic nobility. Several thousand Alamanni noblemen were summarily arrested, tried, and executed for treason at a Council at Cannstatt. Thereafter, Alamanni was ruled by Franks and the only remaining native Alamannic nobility seems to have hailed from Alsace.

Carolingian regnum

See also: Duchy of Swabia

During the reign of Louis the Pious, there were tendencies to renewed independence in Alamannia, and the 830s were marked by bloody feuds between the Alamannic and Rhaetian nobility vying for dominion over the area. Following the Treaty of Verdun of 843, Alamannia became a province of East Francia, the kingdom of Louis the German, the precursor of the Kingdom of Germany. It was called a regnum in contemporary sources, though this does not necessarily mean that it was a kingdom or subkingdom. At times, however, it was.

It was granted to Charles the Bald in 829, though it is not certain whether he was recognised as duke or king. It was certainly a kingdom, including Alsace and Rhaetia, when it was granted to Charles the Fat in the division of East Francia in 876. Under Charles, Alammania became the centre of the Empire, but after his deposition, it found itself out of favour. Though ethnically singular, it was still plagued by Rhaetian-Alamannic feuds and fighting over the control of the Alammanic church.

Alamannia in the late 9th century, like Bavaria, Saxony, and Franconia, sought to unite itself under one duke, but it had considerably less success than either Saxony or Bavaria. Alammannia was one of the jüngeres Stammesherzogtum, one of the "younger" stem duchies, or tibal duchies, which formed the basis of the political organisation of East Francia after the collapse of the Carolingian dynasty in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. In the 10th century, no noble house of Alamannia succeeded in founding a ducal dynasty, as the Ottonians did in Saxony or the Liutpolding in Bavaria, though the Hunfridings came closest.

The duchy encompassed the area surrounding Lake Constance, the Black Forest, and the left and right banks of the Rhine, including Alsace and parts of the Swiss plateau, bordering on Upper Burgundy. The boundary with Burgundy, fixed in 843, ran along the lower Aare, turning towards the south at the Rhine, passing west of Lucerne and across the Alps along the upper Rhône to the Saint Gotthard Pass. In the north, the boundary ran from the Murg (some 30 km south of Karlsruhe) to Heilbronn and the Nördlinger Ries. The eastern boundary was at the Lech. Argovia was disputed territory between the dukes of Alamannia and Burgundy.

From the 10th century onwards, Alamannia is more typically known as the Duchy of Swabia.


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Alemannic German persists as a separate family of dialects within High German. The distribution of the Low Alemannic and High Alemannic subgroups largely correspond to the extent of historical Alemannia, while the Highest Alemannic dialects spread beyond its limits during the High Middle Ages. The Brünig-Napf-Reuss line is a cultural boundary within High Alemannic which marks the division of Alemannia proper and the Argovia marches between Alemannia and Burgundy.

The names for Germany in modern Arabic (ألمانيا), Catalan (Alemanya), Welsh (Yr Almaen), Cornish (Almayn), French (Allemagne), Persian (Alman), Portuguese (Alemanha), Spanish (Alemania), and Turkish (Almanya) all derive from Alamannia. A similar correspondence exists for "German", both as the language and the adjectival form of "Germany".

List of rulers


Known kings of Alamannia prior to AD 496:

  • Chrocus 306
  • Mederich (father of Agenarich, brother to Chnodomar)
  • Chnodomar 350, 357
  • Vestralp 357, 359
  • Ur 357, 359
  • Agenarich (Serapio) 357
  • Suomar 357, 358
  • Hortar 357, 359
  • Gundomad 354 (co-regent of Vadomar)
  • Ursicin 357, 359
  • Makrian 368371
  • Rando 368
  • Hariobaud 4th century
  • Vadomar vor 354360
  • Vithicab 360368
  • Priarius ?378
  • Gibuld (Gebavult) c. 470

Merovingian dukes

Main article: Duke of Alamannia

See also


  1. in what is now Switzerland, the Alemannic areal has expanded during the high medieval period, with the Valser migration into the Alps, with the Zähringer and later the influence of Bern towards Upper Burgundy, and into Grisons as lower Raetia came under the rule of the Werdenberg counts.
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